New York magazine has a tell-all in this week’s issue by Michael Osinski, a man who wrote software creating collateralized mortgage obligations, CMOs, thus fueling our entire economic collapse.
He maintains throughout the piece that his tool was manipulated and used for evil, when it could have just as easily been used for good—-if only the banks issuing mortgages in the first place had been more responsible.
Turns out the guy’s kind of a hippy. He’s clearly a brilliant programmer, but he acts as if it’s a random talent that he stumbled upon, like discovering a knack for poker or sudoku. (So yes, the entire tone of the story’s a bit suspect.)
Before diving into programming, he talks about jobs “[risking] my life for $200 a week hauling shrimp 100 miles offshore from Cape Canaveral,” and being the “only white boy in my crew digging ditches in Alabama.” Then, when his wife gets sick, he tries to find something more stable and profitable…and ends up on Wall Street. And here’s how he describes his initial feelings about mortgage-packaging:
Having started to overcome my aversion to the overpaid life—I had recently bought a suit at Barneys, the old one on Seventh Avenue—I asked him how the bonds worked.
“You put chicken into the grinder”—he laughed with that infectious Wall Street black humor—“and out comes sirloin.”
I wanted a piece of that. But first, I kept a promise to my wife—that if she recovered, we would backpack around the world.
And then, he retired at 45 and started farming oysters at his summer home on the North Fork of Long Island.